The bad news is that the Town of Clayton charges as much to bury a bag of ashes – $900 – as it does to bury a coffin, even though one requires a backhoe while the other requires a shovel. The good news is that Clayton leaders are thinking about lowering that cost after an attorney pointed out the steep price. (A summary decision to lower the cost immediately to the Triangle average would have been better, but we’ll take what we can get.)
Kudos to Benson attorney James Levinson, writing on behalf of a client, who said the cost of burying cremains, or cremated remains, could not possibly compare to the expense of burying a coffin. Referring to the $900 tab, Mr. Levinson wrote, “I can certainly understand that cost if the town has to bring in a backhoe and dig a hole big enough for a casket and then cover it up.” But $900 to bury a cloth bag of ashes in an 18-inch-deep hole “is simply too much,” he said. As an aside, we hope Mr. Levinson’s clients appreciate his diligence on their behalf.
We hope too that Clayton leaders will eventually agree with Mr. Levinson. At the very least, they say they are open to discussing a separate, lower fee for the burying of cremains. Just as important, council members seem amenable to providing burial services on weekends, something the town does not currently do. (We understand that most of Clayton government works from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, but that’s not a good enough reason to ask a family to wait until Monday to bury a loved one. We see no reason the town could not offer weekend burials, and if it had to charge a premium to cover overtime costs, at least families would have the choice.)
As part of the discussion about burial costs and services, we’d ask the town to also review the cost of burying coffins. According to numbers gathered by the town manager’s staff, no one charges as much to bury a coffin as Clayton – not the City of Dunn, not the City of Durham, not the Town of Selma, not the Town of Smithfield. Why is Clayton more expensive, often substantially so?
We know from our many talks with Town Manager Steve Biggs that he places a great deal of emphasis on customer service. But that doesn’t mean that burial fees are the biggest blip on his radar.
So thanks to Mr. Levinson for pointing out an area where Clayton can do better by its customers, and here’s hoping the Town Council will give some consideration to grieving families.
It’s easy to say no
The good news is that the state’s Division of Non-Public Education encourages nontraditional students – those in home schools, charter schools and private schools – to take the occasional public school class when needed. The bad news is that the Johnston County Board of Education appears ready to formalize its practice of barring nontraditional students from traditional classrooms.
We certainly get where the schools are coming from. When a student enrolls part-time in a public school, the state allots no additional money to teach that child. Given that, we’d be cautious too about opening the gates to a flood of part-time students.
We’d be cautious but not uncompromising.
The fact of the matter is that any number of students transfer into the public schools after the state sets the final teacher allotment 10 days into the school year. The schools receive no additional dollars for those students either, but we see no move to keep them from enrolling. Indeed, because the schools find a way to teach those students, we trust they could find a way to accommodate part-time students, perhaps through a cap on the total number in any given semester.
It’s always easier to say no to a request than to grant it and then figure out how to make it work. But we’d feel better about a public school system that welcomed challenges instead of adopting policies to avoid them.
Differences of opinion
The good news is that people read our editorials. The even better news is that not everyone agrees with them.
A recent editorial called on county commissioners to roll the cost of recycling into the property-tax rate instead of levying a $5 fee on every household and business. A caller said that was a bad idea.
His argument: Because a property owner might own a house in Smithfield, a small farm near Princeton and rental houses in Selma and Wilson’s Mills, he would pay more than his fair share for recycling if the cost were rolled into the property-tax rate. And shouldn’t renters, who pay no property taxes, contribute to the cost of recycling?
Our guess is that landlords would roll the cost of recycling into the rents they charge; any smart landlord would. As for the caller’s other point, we’ve never seen any reason to pity people who own a lot of land.
Still, the caller raises worthy points that county commissioners should consider as they debate how to pay for recycling. While we certainly have our thoughts on how things ought to be, we appreciate other points of view, and we suspect commissioners do too.